This is a measure of how empty downtown Minneapolis was, and gradual and tentative population growth seems important.
News (with an exclamation mark!) Has been announced in the lobby of Nicollet Mall’s office building that several Skyway-level retailers are open. Some of the “closed” notices on the front window have been changed to “soon to open”. Some coffee shops, such as Starbucks at IDS Center, have a line of customers waiting for orders.
Still, the overall impression of the visit, which was supposed to be the rush hour last morning, was one of the devastations. Downtown Minneapolis feels like a mall that is still about to go out of business.
The necessary word for the Minneapolis Downtown Council is “revival.”With Mary Walstone Craft Sherry Her classic novel About reviving parts of the corpse. However, in retrospect, “resurrection” seems appropriate. Downtown Minneapolis needs a shock. It’s dramatic, a little miraculous, and can be the opposite of what you would do naturally.
The power that led downtown to this point was also dramatic. Let’s start with the COVID-19 pandemic. This closed businesses, offended workers and kept shoppers at home. Next, we’ll add the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and a series of subsequent events.
The color community was frightened and indignant. People with a conscience were shocked and tired. Areas of the city were shaken by demonstrations, riots, looting and arson. Police were depressed, marginalized, and even more understaffed than before. Crime has skyrocketed. Public security has become a goal, not a given one.
But now there are signs of progress. It is estimated that nearly 40% of downtown workers have returned. As the number of COVIDs declines in Minnesota and across the country, some of the major downtown employers have announced plans to regain the workforce. Xcel Energy, Wells Fargo, Ameriprise, US Bank All have resumed some face-to-face staffing.
However, these plans are not immediately transformed into a bustling business district. In many companies, employees start a hybrid schedule that includes both telecommuting and clerical work. The future return of office workers is a plus for downtown, but things are unlikely to turn around soon. Resuscitated fingers may cramp, but it takes more time to get the body back to the feet.
Steve Kramer, chairman of the Downtown Council, told the editorial writer that office workers are just one of the driving forces of the downtown economy. Another driving force is events such as sports and professional theater.
A prime example is the NCAA Women’s Final Four in early April. This should be a great attraction to bring people and visibility to downtown Minneapolis. Related events include the tournament itself at the Target Center, as well as festivals at the Convention Center, three-day parties on First Avenue, and other attractions. The Twins home opener will be held next Thursday, with the exception of player strikes and MLB lockouts.
Large events can create what Cramer calls the “underwater toe effect.” So if you’ve visited downtown once, it’s not too bad and you may be willing to come back.
However, until security issues are resolved, some people are at risk of finding crocodile-filled water and quickly pulling their toes back. They will be willing to step into downtown again, and so will their friends. Kramer acknowledged that future success in downtown depends on “public safety awareness and reality.” Police stations are severely understaffed, and Cramer predicted that efforts to hire a sufficient number of new police officers would “take years.”
Whether downtown can wait so long is an open question.
In his inaugural address last month, re-elected Mayor Jacob Frey said Minneapolis was “steadily recovering.” As voters reaffirmed and strengthened his role in police station oversight, he should continue to rebuild steadily, and if public security is a concern, he should increase his pace.